Over the years people have stuck tapes, CDs and a few other things in my hands. I’ve even had the odd thing posted to me. Believe me when I say that I listen to them all and never assume that because I don’t get them they are not worthwhile. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve chatted with a couple of up and coming song writers and it is always exciting to meet the force and confidence of youth.
I say this because (although it seems long ago now) I was once such a song writer. I was also from the sticks. People used to say about getting started in music; talk to someone in the business. I knew no one. It was Dundee and the late seventies and early eighties and it really felt a million miles from wherever the music business was meant to be. If I’m honest I really think we thought (or I did) that it really wasn’t for the likes of us. Punk did change a good deal of that but even now I do sometimes wonder whether that attitude stops real talent pushing their way forward.
So Celtic Connections is good because it really ignores these traditional routes to success. Many of the artists playing there have great careers but have never been played on mainstream radio or ever have ever had to endure making a promo video. They have simply followed their heart and made the music they have been listening to, adapting and changing. One of the nice things I have learned about music from working on the radio is we really do take each record as we find it. We love finding new things and sharing them with you and we hugely enjoy it when an established artist comes back with something we can’t ignore. So this week we have brand new music from Sweden – First Aid Kit, Beach House, Dawn Landes and Laura Veirs from USA as well as Ray Price and Dolly Parton. We also have country royalty as we play the session and interview from Holly Williams she cut with us last week and some tracks from the Low Anthem’s live appearance at The FruitMarket Cletic Connections show. All great stuff.
Going back to the sticks however. I’m aware that we broadcast from Glasgow and are lucky enough to get these great acts coming through town. Where I grew up there were very few American acts coming to play and I am aware that many people may feel that in their part of the world they feel cut off. I relate to this hugely and please feel free to criticise us if we sound too Glasgowcentric. We’d love to hear and be involved in events all over Scotland and flag them up for people’s attention. Coming from the sticks is something that made me feel an outsider for years. It’s being an outsider that makes me think the way I do and rejoice when I find that spirit in the music I’m playing. Long live the sticks.